The Columbus Urban League

100 Years of Service

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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Introduction

Like many of the 89 Urban League affiliates across the country, the Columbus Urban League's roots extend to the "Great Migration" of 1917. This mass exodus occurred when African Americans left the poverty of sharecropping in the South for Northern factory jobs made available when hundreds of thousands shipped out to fight in World War I. Southern blacks needed help in adjusting to city life and, in 1918, the Columbus Urban League was born.

Within two years, Nimrod B. Allen became the CUL's first Executive Secretary and crafted a plan to foster better race relations in the City. "The reason our Columbus Urban League came to life was to make racial and economic equality possible," explains Stephanie Hightower, the first female CEO and President of today's CUL. "And while there have been many victories, the truth is we exist today for the same reasons we were conceived. We are called to serve as a relevant and effective force in achieving economic mobility for all."

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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Key Dates in Columbus Urban League History

1924
In 1924, the Columbus Urban League is welcomed into The Columbus Community Fund, the precursor to the United Way of Central Ohio. That affiliation continues.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1926
In 1926, the Columbus Urban League partners with Columbus Police on a juvenile crime prevention program. The City of Columbus is the primary funder of CUL's current anti-gang initiative, Applications for Pride, Purpose and Success (APPS).

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1942
In 1942, the Columbus Urban League purchases a property in Champaign County with swimming, boating, picnic grounds and a playground for children. Today's CUL still strives to strengthen and stabilize families (Father 2 Father, and three five-star-rated HeadStart initiatives) though the focus is relationships rather than facilities.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1950's
The activist era of the 1950's, propelled Columbus Urban League to evolve into a community planning agency and led to the CUL Guild. Today, CUL is still a major part of the NearEast Side as an employer, developer of the Huntington Empowerment Center, part of the PACT project and still home to the CUL Guild.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1960's
In the 60's, The Columbus Urban League follows national trends and unleashes workforce development and vocational programs, as well as outreach for single mothers. Today's CUL drives eight different workforce initiatives and is an active partner in CelebrateOne's work to improve infant mortality rates.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1970's and 1980's The Columbus Urban League began to widen its gaze to include many of the other factors that keep people in poverty, such as health, education and family stability in the 70's and 80's. This tradition continues as today's CUL works with at-risk youth through job placement programs, mentors and tutors middle-school students, helps people take control of their finances and teams up with formerly incarcerated individuals to help them return to the community and to reduce the recidivism rate.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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1990's
Since the 1990's, the Columbus Urban League evolves into an even more activist and innovative voice for issues facing all people of color and for embracing diversity. Launched just two years ago, the 700 Credit Score initiative has graduated more than 500 participants, who are raising their credit scores an average of 65 points and setting aside an average of $1,000 each in savings.

Columbus Urban League, From the collection of: National Urban League
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2017
And at Columbus Urban League's latest Empowerment Day in 2017, the organization even announced a fledgling partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, citing the myriad of parallels between rural and urban poverty.

Credits: Story

Curated by Michael Tomlin-Crutchfield

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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